Patterico's Pontifications

9/3/2014

11 Commercial Airliners Missing in Libya

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:38 am

Bill Gertz:

Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month, and western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa.

Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.

“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” said one official. “We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”

Why are they worried only about “terrorist attacks across North Africa”? These planes can’t cross oceans?

45 Responses to “11 Commercial Airliners Missing in Libya”

  1. Oh please stop the whinging and hand wringing. You know Ogabe would never let Amerikkkans die needlessly.

    We need martial law, remember Ferguson and their racist cops from broken marriages?

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  2. > Why are they worried only about “terrorist attacks across North Africa”? These planes can’t cross oceans?

    Some planes don’t have the range to cross the Atlantic without refueling. The 737, for example, has a range of 3115 nautical miles (http://www.boeing.com/boeing/commercial/737family/pf/pf_800tech.page). While Europe could theoretically be in range, nothing in the Americas would be.

    aphrael (af3e66)

  3. there is more than one way to cross the Atlantic via air.

    after all, how did those 737′s get from Boeing to Africa to begin with?

    if you’re not worried, you’re not paying attention.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  4. Among the planes missing are some Airbus 320s (range up to 6500 nmi), 330s (7250 nmi), and a 340 (range 7400 nmi).

    Pretty sure the US is in reach.

    Chuck Bartowski (11fb31)

  5. > after all, how did those 737′s get from Boeing to Africa to begin with?

    By stopping in places and refueling. That seems difficult under these circumstances.

    Now, I don’t know what the actual range of the stolen planes is, because I don’t know what models they were; i’m simply looking for a plausible explanation for the comment Patterico called out.

    aphrael (af3e66)

  6. Yes, the US would be in reach at those ranges.

    aphrael (af3e66)

  7. Saw the article last night, and it had a list of airliners at the airport, but not the ones “missing”. I saw a couple of A330s and an A340 in the list, and those seem to have Transatlantic ranges. With Europe’s not-so-great record of intercepting stray airliners, I wouldn’t be thrilled with A320s in the mix. (A320 range is 3000+ miles) Even the turboprops could cause problems after crossing the Med.

    Red County Pete (931282)

  8. Libya is one of many examples that Obama’s ‘policy’ of “Don’t do stupid stuff” was an exhortation beyond his capacity.

    SPQR (c4e119)

  9. Why are they worried only about “terrorist attacks across North Africa”? These planes can’t cross oceans?

    It depends on their setup, I suppose.

    The Airbus A320 family consists of short- to medium-range, narrow-body, commercial passenger jet airliners manufactured by Airbus. … The aircraft family can accommodate up to 220 passengers and has a range of 3,100 to 12,000 km (1,700 to 6,500 nmi), depending on model.

    The Airbus A330 is a medium wide-body twin-engine jet airliner made by Airbus, a division of Airbus Group. Versions of the A330 have a range of 7,400 to 13,430 kilometres

    ATR 42 – Range, loaded 480 nmi (885 km)

    CRJ – 700 Maximum range 1,218 nmi (2,256 km; 1,402 mi)

    It seems that the Airbus aircraft would likely be capable of Trans-Atlantic flight; why would Libya even have these planes if they could fly across an ocean.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  10. If we and the others were at war then maybe the aircraft would have been destroyed the moment the ratbags took control of the airport.

    Davod (4cc250)

  11. WEB Griffin has a novel called, By Order of the President” that seems to have a good discussion of the same problem. Some of his information about flying has been criticized but it seems to me to sound reasonable although, of course, it is a thriller. At least it goes into the range and configuration issues.

    Mike K (90dfdc)

  12. and that doesn’t even include the option of taking out the seats and loading fuel blivets inside the cabin…

    so yeah, nothing to worry about here at all. hell, just them having the planes is a psy-ops victory for them, because we *have* to worry about them. asymmetric warfare is funny like that.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  13. My thought was that any unidentified and unscheduled big plane with range flying out of Africa or Europe right now would probably be on “somebody’s” radar long before it actually made it to the U.S. But think of the damage they could do to the world’s economy by taking short suicide flights to the lit- up- at- night Saudi oilfields.

    elissa (8a85cd)

  14. …any unidentified and unscheduled big plane…

    so you borrow an identity and a schedule.

    or create one.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  15. When MH370 disappeared, there was some discussion of it having “piggybacked” with another airliner. It is not impossible to evade radar.

    creeper (0089bf)

  16. Will they serve adult beverages on Jihadi Air?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  17. These planes can’t cross oceans?

    Not without being noticed.

    Malaysia and Thailand may ignore what’s on their radar screens; the United States and Canada won’t.

    Where are they going to get their fuel from?

    9/11 was based on crashing planes full of fuel into buildings, so that a fire would start, and weaken steel.

    Sammy Finkelman (da8ac2)

  18. “and that doesn’t even include the option of taking out the seats and loading fuel blivets inside the cabin…”

    Don’t forget installing anti-seat reclining fixtures to each seat.

    Davod (4cc250)

  19. “…so that a fire would start, and weaken steel.”

    oh please: everyone knows fire can’t melt steel.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  20. 7. …With Europe’s not-so-great record of intercepting stray airliners, I wouldn’t be thrilled with A320s in the mix. (A320 range is 3000+ miles) Even the turboprops could cause problems after crossing the Med.

    Red County Pete (931282) — 9/3/2014 @ 8:08 am

    Yes, I wonder if the Swiss Air Force will still only be working 9-5 now.

    Steve57 (e0f6ab)

  21. Steve, great story about Switzerland during WW2.

    In World War II, the Swiss had defenses no other country had. Let’s begin with the rifle in every home combined with the Alpine terrain. When the German Kaiser asked in 1912 what the quarter of a million Swiss militiamen would do if invaded by a half million German soldiers, a Swiss replied: shoot twice and go home.

    Love it!

    Gazzer (26a83c)

  22. 4. Well, for one account anywheres on the North American coast expendable.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  23. Jihadi cocktail favorite:

    72 vigins

    1 shot heinz 57
    1 shot v-8
    8 oz. 7-up

    Sheik with ice and serve in a hi-ball glass

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  24. some like to order the 72 virgins with 9 cherries and 11 ice cubes.

    felipe (b5e0f4)

  25. Will they serve adult beverages on Jihadi Air?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9) — 9/3/2014 @ 9:32 am

    Is sweet mint tea an adult beverage?

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  26. Don’t visit the Eiffel Tower or the Vatican on 9/11 this year. They are both within range of North Africa.

    PerfectSense (18605b)

  27. re-stolen, originally from the Morning News Dump thread over at the HQ

    Top 10 Reasons Not to Fly ISIS Air

    10) The stewardesses are all dressed in burqas.
    9) The flight crew stops to pray every couple of hours.
    8 )No alcohol on board
    7) Your only ticket options are “Coach” and “DIE Infidel!”
    6) The overhead bins have been replaced with goat feed.
    5) WHAT is that smell?
    4) They force *your* women to wear burqas
    3) Limited Destination Options
    2) Sometimes the flight crew forgets their goats.

    And the number 1 reason to avoid flying ISIS Air…

    1) All their flights are strictly one way.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  28. So, stay out of major coastal cities on the 11th. I stay out of them anyway.

    If these planes are used to attack US cities, the Islamocretins may have committed cultural suicide. At some point the US citizenry is going to have had enough. Of. This. Shit., and then hell will go for a stroll with little silver bells on. The Jihadists might bring us to our knees with a sufficiently nasty bioweapon. Conventional or even nuclear explosions won’t do it. They’ll only make us truly angry.

    Now, I’d prefer to avoid that. If we lose out tempers, Mecca will disappear in a cloud of plasma and we’ll end up running the middle east like a satrapy for the next two hundred years, minimum. It won’t be good for the middle east, it won’t be good for us. I’d rather not. But if it’s coming, let’s get it over with. The initial rush should be entertaining; Obama impeached for ostentatious incompetence, the United Nations invited to shut up of move out. And this time I suspect we’ll keep come or all of the oil. That was always the weak point of the “No blood for oil” chant; we weren’t actually keeping any oil.

    C. S. P. Schofield (e8b801)

  29. Too bad Halliburton can’t whip up a death inspiring sand storm for these nitwits.

    mg (31009b)

  30. Take a week, get them into South America. Load with fuel, fly north.

    htom (412a17)

  31. An airliner flying in the world air traffic system is supposed to have its transponder going and would be be visible on radar if it doesn’t.

    A stolen airliner flying across the Atlantic would almost certainly be detected and identified long before it got close to the U.S.

    Rich Rostrom (00fcaf)

  32. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was not detected because it was flying south in the Indian Ocean not near any land, and heading toward Antarctica.

    Also Indian radar toward the south was turned off at night, and it probably not got close anyway,

    Sammy Finkelman (fb61e5)

  33. Rich — that is indeed how it is supposed to work, assuming that all involved are being careful to keep the hardware and software and data up-to-date. I am not sure that terrorists are a part of that “all”.

    htom (412a17)

  34. I have to echo Davod @10. Why are we sitting around waiting for those things to take off? I doubt the rebels have anybody qualified to fly them yet. It’s a lot easier to destroy them on the ground.

    Steve57 (e0f6ab)

  35. Not without being noticed.

    Malaysia and Thailand may ignore what’s on their radar screens; the United States and Canada won’t.

    Where are they going to get their fuel from?

    9/11 was based on crashing planes full of fuel into buildings, so that a fire would start, and weaken steel.

    Sammy Finkelman (da8ac2) — 9/3/2014 @ 9:48 am

    You’re forgetting Sammy, there is one hell of a lot of friendly airspace between Tripoli and the European continent. Most particularly now that Erdogan has shown who he would rather side Turkey with. Also, I’m going to imagine ISIS has figured out that a stolen jet is useless without stolen fuel.

    There is also rather a lot of bomb capacity on one of those jets- enough to put a fair sized hole in the middle of London, Paris, Rome, Berlin….

    And of course, we all can Google that fire cannot melt steel. Rosie O’Donnell said so.

    Bill H (f9e4cd)

  36. I see some of the contributors brought that up. (extra fuel tanks) Fuel is heavy though and you burn more getting off the ground as well as in flight so, unless they have the longer range Airbus’s, it’s not likely that they will show up on the east coast. However, they might make it to South America, should that be the case, all bets are off. The assumption that they will be used like those on 9/11 is not accurate. That plan relied on long haul planes being fueled and using that fuel as the combustion device. There’s more than enough military grade explosives floating around the ME to make it unnecessary to have fully fueled planes to make a big bang. Places in Europe, Africa, and the ME should be worried even more than us.

    Charles (72a605)

  37. Eleven planes is enough to take out all the golf courses around DC.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  38. What is the minimum altitude that our radar will detect aircraft? My understanding is that very low altitude flight will defeat radar (see the drug runners from South America for example). Flying a 200 ton aircraft at 200 feet would be somewhat hazardous, but could be done. I would at least have the Navy establish a radar picket line in mid-Atlantic to watch for low altitude aircraft.

    Greg (f49503)

  39. An airliner flying in the world air traffic system is supposed to have its transponder going and would be be visible on radar if it doesn’t.

    most ATC radars, as i understand things these days do NOT return skin paints, but only return transponder codes…

    we have/had other radars that would do skin paints, but many of them have been removed from service, for instance the airborne blimp radar that used to be down on the Gulf coast.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  40. Things are building toward a major crisis. And this president never lets a crisis go to waste, which would be quite a feat after his many decision that have made the looming crisis more likely and more difficult to prevent.

    Andrew H. (6f1bd9)

  41. 32. Samuel, they do not know which direction MH370 went, they surmised South because they would have been detected on another route.

    And if you believe that you’re Sammy Finkelman.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  42. F/U to #39: IOW, if the transponder is off, the ATC radar are likely NOT going to see the plane/s and unless they go over or near a MILSPEC radar, that does do skin paints, and which would twig to the no transponder return, i would think you could avoid detection via radar. then your biggest problem is detection by the old fashioned Mark I eyeball.

    so, if you avoid regular routes, so no one says, “where the hell did they come from?” and ask ATC why there is a jet near them that ATC didn’t announce, you very likely could get through unseen until too late. a large portion of that would depend on how various countries in the area handle their ADIZ, but i imagine there are holes to be exploited and people to be bribed or recruited.

    you’d have to do some leg w*rk and research to create a flight path, but for all their barbarism, the jihadis seem to be able to find just about any 1st world technical knowledge they need.

    (authors note: this is all a SWAG on my part, based on my limited knowledge on the subject. of course, if i was a SME on the issue, OPSEC would prevent me from discussing the issue in detail. this is just all based on open source info and speculation)

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  43. 42. I don’t see a problem for a pilot with MH370 Captain experience(saying nothing else about the man or his actions) getting to a couple hundred miles of the US coast naked as a jay bird.

    The only thing he’d worry about is that “Mark I eyeball” crossing air corridors.

    For example, had MH370 actually followed the consensus heading it would have flown directly over Indonesian military air base at Aceh.

    All this talk about radar from 2nd tier economies is bluster, they have nothing and if they do its broken.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  44. redc1c4 – you’ve completely discounted the ARSR (e.g. ARSR-4) coverage which are in operation on the periphery of the the country, plus some sites within CONUS as well …

    Data showing ARS and ARSR coverage at 500 and 1000 foot levels (where an airliner would get horrible air mileage as well):

    http://psugeo.org/Publications/Atlas%20of%20Radar%20Coverage%20of%20the%20Lower%2048%20Border%20States%20-%20Final.pdf

    _Jim (b7cf32)

  45. Typo – make that ” ASR and ARSR coverage “

    _Jim (b7cf32)


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